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New report pinpoints priority restoration areas along U.S.-Mexico border

In the wake of border wall construction during the Trump administration, various sites along the U.S.-Mexico border are in need of environmental restoration. A  new report from the nonprofit Wildlands Network details the highest priority areas.

Myles Traphagen, borderlands program coordinator with Wildlands Network, has been  documenting damage from the border wall since January 2021.

He said border wall construction stripped away vegetation, tore into mountains and left protected lands vulnerable to erosion and gullying. The wall is also a major barrier to the movement of mountain lions, bobcats, deer and  other species that rely on cross-border connectivity to access food, water and mates.

"We’re going to see effects upon wildlife in the future," he said, adding that funds already set aside for the Department of Homeland Security to carry out environmental mitigation at the border are probably insufficient. However, he said it’s important to begin what will be a long process.

The report’s priority sites are protected areas that have seen severe damage, and where wildlife and water flows are being impeded. Traphagen also highlighted the need to remove concertina wire from the border fence in cities like Nogales, Arizona, where he said it's unfair to children and families who live along the border to see such a "prison-like environment." The wire is also a hazard to wildlife and the public.

Kendal Blust, an Arizona native, reports from KJZZ’s bureau in Hermosillo, Sonora, focusing on business and economic relationships between Arizona and northern Mexico.Prior to joining KJZZ, Kendal worked at the Nogales International, reporting on border and immigration issues, local government, education and business. While working on her master’s degree at University of Arizona School of Journalism, she did stints with the Arizona Daily Star and the Tico Times in Costa Rica, and completed a thesis project about women art activists in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands.In her pre-journalist life, Kendal was a teacher, first helping Spanish high school students learn English, then heading to Tucson to teach fourth grade.When she’s not in the newsroom, Kendal enjoys getting outside for a hike or a swim, catching a good movie, hanging out with family and friends, and eating great food.